This post was most recently updated on January 18th, 2023
Anyone who works in digital advertising – from advertisers to agencies to developers and publishers – has certainly heard of a walled garden.
Although the term gets thrown around in AdTech quite often, its roots reach far beyond programmatic advertising.
The internet is often perceived as a place where everyone is equal and there are no restrictions – at least, that’s how most of us envision it.
An insider look at AdTech, however, will quickly dismiss those thoughts; some of the most successful publishers out there are the ones that grew by properly capitalizing on the concept of a walled garden.
In this blog post, we talk about what walled gardens are perceived to be and how they will be impacting publishers in the long haul.
A walled garden is a system where tech platforms have total control over your content, media, and applications.
With this control, third-party applications and content, such as your audience data, are restricted from being accessed and monetized.
As a publisher who is making use of walled gardens, you get massive audience reach, monetization benefits, and traffic boosting opportunities.
A majority of major walled gardens are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat who built their initial ad technology offering in-house to meet their own needs.
Their approach combines their services as a publisher with those of an ad-tech provider.
Unlike the Open Internet, which is typically where publishers have control over their media & their data being added, removed, or modified.
Within digital publishing, providers like GAFA- Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon are the main walled gardens while providers like AppNexus, Index Exchange, and TripleLift come in the Open Internet category.
Let’s dig deeper into how walled gardens operate in the AdTech biz, its pros and cons, and how impactful it is towards publishers.
Walled gardens lead to monopolies that burn the competition and generate an unstable power dynamic, though they can be strangely effective tools for publishers as well.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
You can try building your own walled garden, but in the AdTech world specifically, taking the path of least resistance means going where the people are, and there are billions already in the walled gardens of GAFA
In a nutshell, the GAFA walled gardens are not your competition but these ecosystems can actually take your ad inventory game to another level if you make use of them properly.
Google, Facebook, and Amazon may account for more than half of all revenue generated from digital advertising, but they’re not the only players.
Independent AdTech companies are the entities outside the walled gardens.
Although independent ad tech companies lack the scale and data of the Triopoly, they offer brands, advertisers, agencies, and publishers with an array of benefits:
Publishers are in a solid position to develop their own walled gardens versions since they have all the data and user logs stacked up. (User data is collected each time a visitor logs on to view your blog)
Increasingly scarce consumer data could result in price increases as well.
Publishers are therefore seeking to expand their addressable audiences through legit registration strategies.
Google and Facebook have an abundance of data about consumer purchases, but they are unable to provide value in the form of rich content like publishers do.
This means that these platforms are unable to collect user metrics about how people engage with content.
Media agencies also see this as a gold mine in tapping into the publisher-backed walled gardens.
The media agencies see their companies serving as navigators in this complicated ecosystem as investments are a must to facilitate the optimization of data distributed among the many walled gardens. Small and medium walled gardens are included in these cases too.
In terms of improving the yield for every impression, competition on the demand side directly benefits publishers.
This is the main reason why PubGuru header bidding has been gaining widespread adoption, which also serves as a solid illustration of how walled gardens impact publishers.
Prior to header bidding, Google handed the ad exchange (Google AdX) a “last-look” advantage.
As a result, AdX had the ability to review all competing bids before an impression was served and then outbid them. Meanwhile, the less popular exchanges didn’t get the opportunity to do the same.
Through header bidding, all exchanges could simultaneously bid on every single impression, resulting in a higher yield for publishers.
After header bidding was already mainstream, Google revoked AdX’s “last-look” advantage.
Publishers with large first-party datasets often create their own walled gardens, offering certain users ad-supported content while other users can subscribe.
A publisher’s best defense against walled gardens is to build a better understanding of their own audience, work with demand-agnostic ad tech partners, and package their ad inventory or ad space in ways that advertisers find appealing.
So, what is our ultimate advice for publishers? Pick an open, well-integrated platform, which allows seamless access to leading 3rd party solutions.
With MonetizeMore, commitment to openness stretches beyond our products. We dedicate significant time and resources to ensure that integration partners are accessible through us.
This open approach makes facilitating these integrations a core part of our offering and ensures that publishers have the upper hand in any situation.
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